Amalia Mercader

Her greatest wish – to find the remains of her son Carlos Rodríguez Mercader who disappeared without a trace in 1976 and bury him – wasn’t granted to her. In her last years, this militant woman could attend the demonstrations organized by relatives of missing persons only in a wheelchair, but always with a photo of her son. She passed away on December 24th 2016.

Amalia Mercader was a political person, and longstanding member of the Uruguayan Socialist Party. Arrested already during the “Pachecato” (term of office of president Jorge Pacheco who was vice-president under Óscar Gestido and became president after the sudden death of Óscar Gestido in 1967), she was dismissed in 1974 from her job as teacher and principal of the Industrial school in Santa Lucia and re-arrested. Her son worked at the same school in Santa Lucia.

Her daughter –in-law Yvonne Trias had been arrested in 1972. She was released from prison only after the end of the dictatorship in 1985. Carlos, his sister-in-law Cecilia Trias and her boyfriend Washington Cram fled from persecution in Uruguay to Argentina. Prior to the military coup in Argentina in 1976, there existed a clandestine collaboration of the intelligence services of six South American states – Argentina, Chile, Paraguay, Uruguay, Bolivia and Brazil – the so-called “Operation Condor”. They assisted each other with the persecution and murder of so-called enemies of the state. It is estimated that a minimum of 200 persons fell victim to the collaboration of the dictatorships. Just like Cecilia, Washington and Carlos. Until today, there is no trace of either of them. Cecilia and Washington were seen for the last time on September 28th and Carlos on October 1st 1976.

At the opening of the exhibition “Esperandote” (I wait for you), Amalia told of her last encounter with Carlos. She had gone to Argentina to see him. He called her and said: “Mama, like last time, don’t speak to anybody about it, the situation is even worse. But Come. I wait. I wait for you. We are going to meet. Don’t show any emotion, stay completely calm. When they watch me, I won’t greet you.” He saw me, crossed the street and gave me a kiss which I will never forget. “Go back and take care of yourself and of Zolinda [his sister]. Stop your political activities,” he told her. That was the last time she saw him.

Amalia continued teaching, cared for her daughter and grandchild, but she never gave up the search for her son. She was not satisfied with the inept investigations and results of interrogations and trials. She couldn’t give up her search. With her attitude, she touched many people, among them Albrecht Girle who accompanied Amalia on many demonstrations and took photos. In 2016 the Casa Bertolt Brecht dedicated an exhibition to her with the title “Esperandote.” This exhibition will soon be shown at the Museum of Remembrance (Museo de la Memoria).

© Fotos Albrecht Girle
At the opening of the exhibition “Esperandote” in the Casa Bertolt Brecht.
On the right Amalia Mercader. At her side Albrecht Girle.